LONDON (Reuters) - Sterling slipped a quarter of a percent on Thursday against the euro but firmed against the dollar, as the single currency enjoyed a broad rebound in the wake of the European Central Bank’s new stimulus announcement.
The ECB cut its deposit rate by 10 basis points and announced a bond purchase programme of 20 billion euros a month, starting from November, but the move failed to live up to some dovish market expectations, leading to some volatile euro moves.
The single currency had initially fallen after the ECB statement and touched a 2-1/2 month low against the pound at 88.86 pence.
It then rebounded across the board as ECB President Mario Draghi hinted at the limits of monetary policy and called on governments to expand budget spending.
By 1545 GMT the euro was half a percent higher versus the dollar and also rose 0.3% to the pound at 89.61 pence.
Against the dollar, sterling firmed 0.2% at $1.2351, close to $1.2385, a high it surged to on Monday when no-deal Brexit worries receded and some economic data came in better than expected.
The euro volatility came on a day of calm for sterling on the Brexit news front as investors weigh up Britain’s chances of securing a divorce deal with the European Union ahead of its scheduled departure from the bloc on Oct. 31.
With parliament suspended for five weeks by Prime Minister Boris Johnson — a move judged unlawful by Scotland’s highest court of appeal on Wednesday — traders lacked new Brexit developments to digest and stayed on the sidelines.
“For now, avoiding a no-deal Brexit by Oct. 31 is the only silver lining for the pound,” London and Capital Group told clients.
The court ruling has prompted calls for lawmakers to return to work as the government and parliament battle over the future of Brexit. Britain’s Supreme Court is set make a ruling next week.
Outcomes ranging from leaving without a deal to another referendum that could cancel the whole process are forcing some investors to stay away from the currency.
Instead they are trading implied volatility via options markets — two-month volatility, which stretches beyond the current Oct. 31 Brexit deadline, has come off three-year highs to around 9.40 vols. That is down from 15.45 vols on Sept. 3, the highest levels since the 2016 referendum.
Sterling’s steadiness was also partly due to the amount of short positions hedge funds held on sterling, analysts said. In the week to Sept. 3 leveraged funds reduced their positions slightly, but the amount of contracts, at $6.42 billion, was close to the highest since April 2017.
Reporting by Olga Cotaga and Sujata Rao; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Catherine Evans